JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Batman Returns (1989)

Written by Bianca Garner

People probably don’t realise just how successful Tim Burton’s gothic version of Batman (1989) was, it made a staggering $410 million, (it had a budget of $35 million) so therefore it would be inevitable that a sequel would be made. Despite being classed as a ‘christmas film’ Batman Returns was released in June 1992, regardless of this fact Batman Returns is a Christmas film just as much as Die Hard is. At first, the director had no real interest in returning to helm the sequel. It was only when he was given more creative freedom that he agreed to come back to Gotham. Critics have criticised his first film as too dark, but they were probably not expecting things to get even darker.

The film begins at Christmas (33 years prior to the film’s events) where socialites Tucker and Esther Cobblepot give birth to a deformed baby boy, Oswald. Disgusted by his appearance, they ultimately throw him into the sewer, where he is discovered by a family of penguins at Gotham Zoo. We fast forward to the present where millionaire Max Shreck proposes to build a power plant to supply Gotham City with energy, somehow Schreck is kidnapped and meets Oswald who is now a crime boss, going by the name of Penguin. Schreck and Penguin, both want the same thing, control over Gotham, but which one is more evil and twisted?

At first, the Christmas setting of Batman Returns seems hardly noticeable; we are far too caught up in grimacing at the revolting Penguin (played by the superb Danny De Vito) and watching Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer who oozes sex appeal) seduce Batman. However, the film’s first lines of dialogue is an exchange of ‘Merry Christmas’ and rewatching the film through the lens of Christmas, we realise that it has always been there in one form or another. The mise-en-scene with it’s giant Christmas trees decorated with tinsel and twinkling fairy lights, seem to be lost in dark, bleak and gothic architecture of Burton’s Gotham city. Occasionally we will witness a character reference Christmas, and the season of goodwill, but the idea of Christmas cheer is far from the minds of our main characters, and we can understand why this is the case. Burton’s decision to set the film’s events at Christmas is an interesting one. Of course, there must be Christmas in Gotham, however, Christmas in Gotham is like no other. The concept of Christmas is presented as a hyper-real portrayal, clearly representing the German expressionism films that Burton was influenced by. To Burton, it would seem that Christmas is just as twisted a holiday like Halloween.

Okay, so far Batman Returns just seems to be an odd pick for a Christmas film, why on earth would anyone want to watch something so depressing, right? It is what I refer to as an anti-Christmas film, a perfect antidote to all the sentimental films that get shown this time of the year. Christmas isn’t always a time of happiness and goodwill, bad things can still occur at Christmas, and Burton isn’t afraid to remind us of this fact. Batman Returns is the far better film out of Burton’s Batman flicks. Its main villain is far more loathsome than Jack Nicholson’s The Joker, and I am not talking about De Vito’s Penguin here. Walken’s Max Schreck is the film’s true villain. A man who uses people’s vulnerability and their Christmas spirit, to exploit them and manipulate them in order to get what he truly desires. One could argue that Schreck is the embodiment of everything gone awry with Christmas, a symbol of greed and corruption. Schreck tries to pass himself off as a contemporary ‘Father of Christmas’, with his tousled white hair, his red bow tie and wide smile. He seems very jolly at least on first glance. However, he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, who thinks nothing of pushing his secretary, Selina Kyle out of a window.

Christmas films tend to follow a basic feel-good formula about personal growth or gratitude, our main protagonist is meant to grow as a person. There is no real redemption here, Batman still remains shut off. If we can judge anything about his current track record with women (err, what exactly did happened to Vikki Vale?), then we know that his relationship with Selina will be short-lived (if she ever returns to him that is). Batman Returns helps to reinforce the idea that not everyone is able to share in the warmth and love that the Christmas is supposed to offer. Heroes aren’t like everyone else, they aren’t always allowed to partake in the celebration of Christmas. Crime never sleeps. If anything, Burton’s Batman Returns helps to reinforce the isolation and pain that Bruce Wayne aka Batman, must have to endure every year. We can picture him reminiscing in the Batcave on Christmas day, alone and reflecting on his parent’s brutal death, while Alfred brings him his Christmas dinner.

Batman Returns is as twisted as a Christmas movie can get and that’s why it’s great. The Penguin’s plan revolving around stealing Gotham’s first-born sons like the evil king David from the story of the nativity reminds us just how morbid the actual nativity story is when you deconstruct it. It is also a well written dark comedy that reminds us of a screwball comedy from the 1940s (‘’A kiss under the mistletoe. You know, mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it.’’ ‘’But a kiss can be even deadlier… if you mean it.’’). A film like Batman Returns helps to remind that mayhem and chaos occur 365 days a year and that Christmas in the Burton household must be a blast.

 

HBO Release First Trailer For ‘Brexit’ Starring Benedict Cumberbatch As Dominic Cummings

“Everyone knows who won. Not everyone knows how.”

Directed by: Toby Haynes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Boardman, Jay Simpson

Release Date: January 19th, 2019.

First Teaser For ‘Downton Abbey’ Film Released

“The television series Downton Abbey followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country house. Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys – even earning a Special BAFTA award and a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.”

Directed by: Michael Engler

Cast: Allen Leech, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Joanna Froggatt

Release Date: 13th September 2019

REVIEW: November

Directed by: Rainer Sarnet
Cast: Rea Lest, Jörgen Liik, Arvo Kukumägi

Written by Bianca Garner

November is an odd film. It’s a very odd, and very strange film; almost completely impossible to describe in words. This isn’t to say that November is a bad film, in fact, it is quite the opposite. November is a stunningly beautiful film with achingly gorgeous cinematography and a haunting score. Directed by Rainer Sarnet, November was Estonia’s entry to the 90th Academy awards, adapted from Andrus Kivirähk’s novel Rehepapp ehk November (which has sold over 25,000 copies making him the most popular 21st century Estonian writer). November is a fairytale at its core. A very grim, strange and surreal fairytale with a moral message at its core, of how love is a fickle thing that can melt away as quickly as the snow. November feels like the film that Andrei Tarkovsky never made, crossed with a dash of Ingmar Bergman’s 1960s films (like Persona and The Hour of the Wolf), and a small splash of Lars Von Trier Antichrist. Beauty is in the surreal.

In 19th century Estonia, a village is inhabited by Black Death (who takes on the form of a pig), spirits, witches, werewolves and the Devil himself. A peasant girl, Liina (Rea Lest), longs for a village boy Hans, while Hans longs for a daughter of an aristocrat (Jette Loona Hermanis),. Liina is to be betrothed to a much older farmer, who repulses her. Both try to use mythical powers to win the hearts and minds of their ‘true’ love. Liina asks the village witch to help her, a toothless hag who has her own sad story of love to tell. And, Hans makes a snowman which comes to life to disperse advice and wisdom, before melting away as the winter season slowly changes. However, things don’t go according to plan and devastating consequences occur as a result. Can their love survive even the toughest and most barren of places?

The film begins strangely; with shots a snowy landscape, a beautiful frozen river and a wolf roaming around being curious and its surroundings. At first, everything seems peaceful and quiet. Then a strange anthropomorphic creature made out of human hair, metal coils and scythes appears in a barn with a cow, proceeding the steal the cow and fly away before dropping the creature (which remains relatively unharmed). The residents come out (Liina and her father) and seem unfazed by the metal creature, in fact the viewer discovers that Liina’s father made the thing, using a soul he brought from the devil at the crossroads in the forest. If you are confused and frustrated by the film’s opening five minutes, then it is possible that this may not be the film for you. The film’s mystery and intrigue are what capture the viewer’s interest, sucking them into this bleak, and alluring world.

The world in which November is set in feels like it exists outside of reality and time. Indeed, it feels like this films could be set in any time throughout history, is it in the past or a warning of our future to come? The film’s narrative is steadily paced, with the camera taking moments to simply pause and reflect on the landscape. Often feeling like a living embodiment of a fever dream, November will leave many viewers feeling puzzled and perplexed as they try to make sense of what events have taken place on screen with surreal moments like when Liina walks out at night, stripping and performing a magical ritual. Is she a werewolf, or is she somehow controlling Han’s lover? It is worth watching November a few times to fully soak the film’s aesthetics and consume it’s plot, and there is a new experience and reading to be had upon every viewing. It is highly likely that November will become a cult film and one that will be studied and analyzed for years to come. This may be a hard film for some to watch, but it’s a rewarding watch and makes it one of this year’s most unique viewing experiences. 

The film’s lead, Rea Lest is memorizing to watch on screen and the camera seems drawn to her presence.  Her co-stars, Jorgen Liik and Jette Loona Hermanis also give a strong performance. And the film’s supporting cast made up of real oddballs helps to reinforce this strange world that November inhabits. The film’s crisp cinematography by director of photography Mart Taniel makes every shot worthy of being hung in an art gallery, and the film’s score by Polish musician Jacaszek adds to the film’s atmosphere and makes the very hairs on the back of your neck stand up. There really isn’t another film like November out there, and in a world of increasing sequels, and remakes, it is refreshing to watch a film that isn’t afraid to be different and daring.

Bianca’s Rating:

5

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: “It’s not the giving, or the getting, it’s the loving”

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

Growing up as a child, there was one Christmas tradition I looked forward to and enjoyed the most. It wasn’t the presents – I’ve actually never been all that keen on opening presents – and whilst I do love a Christmas dinner, it wasn’t the food. What I’ve always enjoyed the most is the back-to-back viewing of these two highly entertaining, heartfelt Christmas short films. For me, these little films ARE Christmas.

The first part of this double bill is always Ziggy’s Gift. If you haven’t heard of this little fella before, I don’t blame you. He’s quite an obscure character who originated in newspaper comic strips in the 1960s, before finding relative success as an Emmy award-winning television short in 1982, with this delightful Christmas special.

Ziggy is a loveable mute, who, with the help of his canine companion, looks to spread the love at Christmas by volunteering as a street Santa for charity. Unbeknownst to Ziggy, he’s getting embroiled in a tangle of dishonest Saint Nicks who have been swindling the public and stealing the money for themselves. Along his journey, Ziggy adopts a stray cat, offers a homeless man the clothes off his back, and frees a tribe of doomed turkeys. The most beautiful thing about this character and his Christmas tale however, is his sheer lack of prejudice, his relentless goodwill and selflessness. All he wants to do is make people happy. The message at the heart of this film is clear: the greatest gift you can give at Christmas is love and kindness.

Now, I like to follow up this with Garfield’s Christmas Special. Whilst Ziggy gets me in the mood with his weirdly whimsical ways, Garfield’s role in this double bill is to provide a more classical approach, something more grounded and relatable, whilst remaining fun and festive. As we all know, Garfield isn’t the most enthusiastic of felines, but the melting of his heart on this particular Christmas gathering is truly touching, and I won’t lie, is a guaranteed tear-jerker for me every year. Now you may be thinking “hang on, Garfield makes you cry?” but believe me, there’s one particular scene in this film which makes it humanly impossible to resist welling up.

When Jon drags Garfield to his family home on the farm one Christmas, with the loveably excitable Otie in tow, Garfield wishes for nothing more than to be back in bed rather than being subjected to what he sees as a boring and cringe-worthy family tradition. But he soon forms a strong bond with Jon’s eccentric grandmother and realises there’s more to Christmas than giving and receiving presents – it’s the people behind the presents that really matter.

What you get with this Garfield special is your standard festive family formula – putting up the tree, sitting down for dinner, being too excited and waking up early on the big day, exchanging gifts and being merry. It’s this familiarity and predictability which makes the deeper, emotional kick even more poignant. There’s no denying it makes me sad every time, but it’s a wonderfully warm, happy sad. I’m sure we all have family members who aren’t around anymore, and Christmas is a time when we are likely to feel their absence even more. But the takeaway message from this fat ginger cat is unmistakably clear – make the most of the people you love, celebrate with them, make memories with them, treasure the happy times.

Christmas is fast becoming a time of materialism and consumer craziness, but these little short films take it back to basics and remind us of what is truly important. Indeed, Garfield said it best when he said: “It’s not the giving, or the getting, it’s the loving”.

Kit Harrington’s Lost Audition Tape for ‘How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World’ Released

From DreamWorks Animation comes a surprising tale about growing up, finding the courage to face the unknown…and how nothing can ever train you to let go.  What began as an unlikely friendship between an adolescent Viking and a fearsome Night Fury dragon has become an epic adventure spanning their lives.  Welcome to the most astonishing chapter of one of the most beloved animated franchises in film history: How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia.  When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they’ve known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth.  As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together—to the very ends of the Earth—to protect everything they’ve grown to treasure.”

Cast: Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, Kit Harington, Craig Ferguson, F. Murray Abraham

Directed by: Dean DeBlois

JUMPCUT ALL THE WAY: Netflix and Chill-mas

Written by Sarah Buddery

Christmas movies are just a click or a tap away and in a year where the Netflix original films have really kicked up a notch, the streaming service is bringing us four fresh festive offerings this year.

JumpCut All The Way is celebrating some of the best and most beloved Christmas movies and the big question is, can any of the Netflix offerings join this pantheon? Here’s how I have them stacked up, from worst to best, to help you make the best choices this Christmas…

 

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6. Christmas Inheritance (2017)

Full disclosure on this one, I was not able to get through this film. I was invested in its trashy and predictable vibes initially and just when I thought it would start wrapping up, I made the mistake of pausing it and seeing that there was, unfortunately, another 75 minutes left. I persevered for a little while, but honestly, this film is unwatchable. It struggles in particular with having a central character who is so inconceivably stupid and borderline detestable, that it is impossible to feel anything for its attempts at schmaltz. A character going on some kind of magical transformation is what we would expect from a film such as this, but this character is so unlikeable, you can’t help but think that she really doesn’t deserve to inherit anything. The pace is so slow it feels like it is moving backwards, and it lacks the charm and warmth of many of the other Netflix offerings. Avoid.

 

 

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5. The Holiday Calendar (2018)

In a film about an enchanted advent calendar, you know the schmaltz is going to be ladled on thick, but whilst there is still an odd charm to The Holiday Calendar the contrivances outweigh this. There is absolutely no doubt, from the moment the film starts, how it is going to end, which makes much of the film feel like a wasted exercise. The performances are okay, and if you know exactly what type of film you are going to see going into it, then there are still things to enjoy.

 

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4.  A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018)

Just like the first film, this sequel is cosy nonsense, as indulgent as a giant mug of hot chocolate with mountains of whip cream and all the marshmallow trimmings. Its faux attempts at drama and plot are all inconsequential in the grand scheme of things as we’re really just here to see the magical Christmas nuptials, and they do not disappoint. The original was bafflingly brilliant and fans who have been eagerly anticipating this sequel will not be disappointed.

 

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3. The Princess Switch (2018)

Anyone who thought A Christmas Prince had the most confusing location logic, you’re in for a treat with The Princess Switch. Continuing the trend of adding “via” onto the end of a random word to make a European sounding country, The Princess Switch takes place in the fictional country of Belgravia (actually an affluent district in London, but definitely not a country) centred around a baking competition that takes place at Wembley. No, not that Wembley, just a large building called Wembley, because of course any of the naming conventions of these films are decided by throwing a dart at a map of London. Aside from the fact it makes absolutely no sense, The Princess Switch is a rehash of The Parent Trap and as long as you can switch your brain off, this film is kind of fun. It’s ludicrous of course, but the dual performance from Vanessa Hudgens is charming, and the picturesque scenery will certainly make you feel warm and festive.

 

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2. A Christmas Prince (2017)

Its placing at second on this list should not fool you, A Christmas Prince is still absolute trash, but boy is it wonderful trash! Again, the logic is absolutely baffling, and you’ll know how it ends from the moment it starts. It’s a slightly more modern take on Cinderella but it has a lot of the same story beats and is the closest a film has come to recreating the magic of Disney with a live-action offering. The locations are again beautiful and as a film, it could, of course, exist without the Christmas element at all, but it’s all part of the odd charm. Like mince pies and Christmas cake, A Christmas Prince is the indulgent treat that you should only have to endure once a year.

 

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1. The Christmas Chronicles (2018)

Home Alone, Die Hard, Elf…everyone has their go-to Christmas movie, whether it is one of those mentioned here or one of the countless other classics. Hopefully, this is not overstating the mark, but The Christmas Chronicles genuinely feels like it could be one of those ones. It’s endearing and sweet enough to give you all the warm festive fuzzies that you need, but it also has plenty for the adults with the legendary Kurt Russell playing a (rather dashing!) Santa Claus. There’s a couple of jokes in it which are not going to age particularly well but it still has all the ingredients of a Christmas classic. It’s funny, heart-warming and has all the magic to make you laugh and cry. This is far and away Netflix’s best original Christmas film and one which will hopefully endure for many years to come.

The Planet Is No Longer Ours In A Brand New ‘Captive State’ Trailer

“Set in a Chicago neighborhood nearly a decade after an occupation by an extra-terrestrial force, “Captive State” explores the lives on both sides of the conflict – the collaborators and dissidents.”

Directed by: Rupert Wyatt

Cast: Vera Farmiga, John Goodman, Machine Gun Kelly, Madeline Brewer

Release Date: April 12th, 2019

The Smallest Weekend Of The Year Sees ‘Ralph Breaks The Internet’ Score A Hattrick with $16m: Box Office Report

It was always going to be a small weekend.

Friday to Sunday in the Box Office sphere saw just $84.5m grossed from 87 movies across the United States, and was topped by three-time winner ‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ with $16.3m. Only two films in 2018 have stayed at number 1 in the Box Office charts for longer than ‘Ralph’, and both – ‘Black Panther’ (5 weekends) and ‘Jumanji’ (4 weekends) – became Box Office behemoths in the process.

Ralph’ won’t be following in their footsteps, as its three-peat is the result of a severe lack of Box Office competition than a record-breaking opening or an incredibly leggy run. Although it won’t tip Disney’s balance sheet like ‘Black Panther’ did, it does, however, stand at a respectable $141m after 3 weekends.

Internationally, it added an extra $18m for a worldwide total of $258.9m, and should top ‘Wreck-It Ralph’s $471.2m global gross by the end of December.

All seems well for those at Disney, although the lingering fear that ‘Ralph’s $175m price-tag may harm the potential of theatrical profitability is only heightened by comparisons to ‘The Grinch’, who, after earning $15m this weekend, becomes the 6th biggest domestic film of the year with $222.3m in the bank ($325.2m globally).

This retelling of Dr. Seuss’ ‘How The Grinch Stole Christmas’, produced by ‘Minions’ helmers Illumination, cost $100m less than ‘Ralph’ and sits comfortably behind ‘Incredibles 2’ as the second biggest animated film of the year.

Both studios take vastly different approaches to their productions, with Disney’s focus on improvements in picture quality resulting in ballooning budgets and giant break-even numbers. This may work when ‘Incredibles 2’ earned $1.2bn off of a $200m production cost, but for the smaller releases like ‘Ralph’, it’s the Illumination model that shines the brightest.

Next is MGM’s ‘Creed II’, earning $10m for 3rd place, ahead of ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’ ($7m) and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ ($6.1m). A 40% drop edges it ever closer to the century mark domestically, and just $13m away from reaching ‘Creed’s total gross. Its sights are firmly set on ‘Rocky IV’s $127.9m domestic total however, which still stands as the biggest boxing movie gross in U.S. history, 33 years after its release. It’s a title ‘Creed II’ should definitely win, although upsets do happen.

Finally, last weekend’s lonely newcomer ‘The Possession of Hannah Grace’ brought in $3.2m from Friday to Sunday, leaving it on a respectable $11.5m gross overall.

The quiet before the storm; this weekend was the last without any new wide releases before next week’s onslaught. Who is going to suffer the most when 3 new films come into play next weekend? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

 

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